Trigger Point Massage Therapy
The more stressed out and overworked you become, the more knots can be found in the muscles of your body. Sometimes, focal points of tenderness can be found, but in other cases, it seems that the pain covers a larger area of your body. Relaxing massage on the uncomfortable area may not be able to help the pain go away. One possible way to manage this constant pain is Trigger Point Massage Therapy.
What is Trigger Point Therapy Massage?
Trigger Point Massage Therapy, also known as Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy, is a form of physical manipulation used to relieve muscle skeletal pain caused by muscle spasm. Trigger points, the focal source of the muscle contraction, received their name from the twitch response that arises when they are pressed: a distinct, sharp, radiating pain. By discovering and dissolving these trigger points, you can release muscles from a dysfunctional state and relieve your pain.
Trigger Point Therapy was created by Janet G. Travell, MD, an innovative doctor who served as personal physician to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson. With the help of David Simons, M.D., a U.S. Air Force flight surgeon, Travell wrote the text: "Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual.”
What is a Trigger Point?
Trigger points are areas in muscle tissue that have developed tender spots in taut bands of muscle. Often, we refer to trigger points as “knots” in our muscles. Trigger points are muscle cells that are locked in a contracted state, which can restrict range of motion, create muscle weakness, and create pain. Trigger Points develop due to poor posture or some other form of repetitive stress on the muscle. When these particular cells within a muscle are in spasm, there is limited blood flow through the area, leading to a build up of metabolic waste and a lack of fresh oxygen and nutrients. To release these trigger points, we need to “reset” these cells and allow the proper exchange of blood through the area.
Trigger points commonly occur either in the belly of muscles where the main nerves innervate or at the attachments of muscles. There are two main types of trigger points: active trigger points and latent trigger points. Active trigger points are in a state of constantly producing pain. Latent trigger points posses the same stiffness, restricted motion, and twitch response of active trigger points, but do not cause any pain. However, latent trigger points can easily be reactivated by strain or overuse of a muscle, leading to pain and discomfort.
Trigger points are primarily diagnosed through their characteristic twitch response, which creates a sensation of referred pain to areas called pain reference zones. Within these pain reference zones, satellite trigger points can develop due the increased stress on these muscles. The pain reference zones were fully mapped out by Dr. Janet Travell’s work and follow consistent patterns. An understanding of these zones is necessary to treat the pain effectively, as treating only “local” satellite trigger points will not permanently resolve the pain.
To relieve a trigger point, the practitioner will determine its exact location through palpation of the muscle, and then apply direct continuous pressure to the trigger point for approximately 10 seconds. While the pressing upon the trigger point can be rather uncomfortable, the relief provided by the subsequent relaxation of the muscle will be significant. It is common to perform this technique on a trigger point several times during a treatment session, as well as treating other trigger points that may work in conjunction to create the pain pattern you are experiencing.
Benefits of Trigger Point Therapy Massage
- Trigger Point Therapy Massage can help relieve your muscular pain and stiffness: By balancing the muscles of your body, we can increase your muscle strength and range of motion, leading to an improvement in your posture.
- Prevent latent trigger points from becoming active trigger points: Studies show that almost everyone has some trigger points that have developed in their muscles. Even if you are not experiencing pain, treating these trigger points can help your muscular functioning.
- Clear trigger points to increase your muscular functioning: Trigger points prevent muscles from contracting correctly, making them seem weak. By clearing our trigger points, we can return the full ability to our muscle to provide strength, balance, and faster recovery from exercise.
- Improve the health of your muscular system: Healthy muscles are soft and relaxed allowing proper flow of blood and nutrients. When you develop trigger points in your muscles, they become tight and tender to pressure.